UK’s Tempest Program- Next Generation Fighter

Italy has joined the UK project to develop the ‘sixth-generation’ fighter known as ‘Tempest’. UK and Italian industrial representatives signed an SOI at DSEI 2019 last month. Sweden has already joined UK’s Tempest program for a European Next Generation Fighter Aircraft. 

“[Joining the programme] is a very positive result achieved thanks to effective and concrete work, confirming [the] excellence of the Italian defence industry,” Country’s Defence Minister, Guerini Lorenzo was quoted as saying by the Italian Ministry of Defence (MoD). 

As noted by the UK MoD, the SOI between the two nations includes several bi-lateral commitments, including: closer government alignment on future Eurofighter Typhoon enhancements; deepening discussions on Tempest military requirements; developing a combat air roadmap and identifying opportunities to integrate advanced technologies from the Typhoon into Tempest; developing an innovative, agile, and co-operative industrial framework to deliver Tempest; and launching pilot studies to demonstrate new and collaborative ways of working.

On the other hand, Sweden is co-operating on the UK’s wider Combat Air Strategy (CAS) that includes Tempest, Italy’s commitment to the next-generation fighter appears to be more concrete at this stage.

The UK and Italy are fielding the same combat aircraft types in the Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Profumo noted that Tempest will maintain the two countries’ capability advantage “for a generation”.

The Tempest was announced by the British Defence Secretary on 16 July 2018 at the Farnborough Airshow as part of the Combat Air Strategy. Tempest will be a sixth generation fighter jet incorporating several new technologies. Two billion pounds will be spent by the British government on the project by 2025. 

It is being developed by a consortium known as “Team Tempest”, consisting of the UK Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo S.p.A. and MBDA, and is intended to enter service from 2035 replacing the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft in service with the RAF and AMI. 

Courtesy: Garreth Jennings and Aziz VW, additional reporting by Rachel Laurent for SCF.

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